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Showing posts with label KMC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KMC. Show all posts

Review: KMC X11SL Silver on Dura Ace 9000

For no particular reason, we decided to go monochrome on the Foil and replace the KMC X11SL Gold links on my bike to the more more color-appropriate X11SL Silver. To no one's surprise, the Silver chains performed exactly like the Golds.


Feature wise, the Silver version X11SLs is exactly equal to the Gold, except that instead of the Titanium Nitrate coating, we have a less highfalutin coat made from plain old Nickel. That said, we felt no difference whatsoever between Silver and Gold. Both of which feel smoother and are quieter that the stock Shimano links.

Full featureset and corresponding advantages as follows:

  • Hollow Pins - Reduced weight compared to Solid Pins
  • Mushroomed Riveting - Increased Pin strength vs. Straight Pins
  • Inner and Outer Plate Chamfering - Smoother shift action
  • Bushingless Construction - Lighter weight, Greater durability
  • Noise Reduction - self explanatory
  • Double X Stamped Outer Plate - Faster Shifting 

Cut down to 105 links, the chain weighs 218 grams. 1 gram heavier than the X11SL Gold we had installed. We wouldn't make too big of a deal of this as that single gram difference falls within an acceptable 0.5% margin of error.   

Master Link

Supplied with the kit is a color matched KMC Missing Link 11 master link. Unlike the 10-speed version, this is a one-time use item. Measured weight is 2 grams. 


Apart from a chain breaker to cut the chain to the proper link count, installation may be performed without any specialized tools. Both ends of the chain should expose 'inner' links as the Missing Link is an outer link. Simply route the chain through the proper channels along the crank, jockey wheels,cogs and back, insert the halves of the Missing Link to the opposite sides then align the pins properly. Once aligned, we have to lock the pins in place by putting on the brakes and giving the cranks a good whack! A strong click sound would indicate that the pins have properly seated in the groove. 

The chains are well lubricated from the factory so your'e all set! 

However, while fairly easy to install, they're quite hard to take off. Unlike our past experience with 10 speed Missing Links, these were not hand-removable. We had to get specialized tools in order to properly uninstall the Missing Link on the Gold chain we were replacing. No issues for us since the pliers were inexpensive. 

Once removed, the old chain was cleaned with some Cylion branded chain degreaser (which worked particularly well), lubed and stored for future action. 

On the Road

As previously mentioned, we found no perceptible difference between these Silver X11s and their blingier brothers, the Golds. Shifting action is smooth and the chain is very quiet. 


Top performers! Smoother, Quieter and 7 grams lighter than stock. Slightly cheaper than the Gold version.  

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Review: KMC X11SL Gold on Dura Ace 9000 (YES IT WORKS)

Bicycle Chains...

Perhaps no other bicycle part is more unremarkable than the humble chain. That said, no other component must be as tough, durable and reliable as bike chains as these have to transmit all the Cyclist's power from the cranks to the cogs. 

In comes KMC, a name synonymous to chains not only for bicycles but for motorcycles and other applications as well. KMC is an OEM supplier to a lot of Bicycle and component manufacturers aside from marketing their own product.  These guys know their chains. 

On hand is their flagship product for 11 speed groupsets, the X11SL. You can throw out unremarkable and humble out the door, as KMC put a lot of thought in designing these chains. Initially developed for Campagnolo 11 speed groupsets, we at RoadieManila found that these work adequately perfectly well with the new Shimano Dura Ace 9000 group.

The first thing which stands out is the color. The X11SL we have on hand is Gold (colored - not plated). This chain screams BLING in all the world's native languages!

Aside from looking all pimp, KMC claims that this coating actually serves a purpose. The gold color is an after effect of its proprietary Titanium Nitride coating. This hard coat serves to protect the chain from corrosion as well as reduce friction between the coated material and whatever it comes to contact with e.g. cogs and cranks. 

But this is not the only trick up its sleeve....

Looking closer at the links, we can see that it has hollow pins and slotted links, weight saving measures found in most high end chains. The pins are mushroomed (flared), which offers increased strength compared to straight pins found on lesser chains. 

Also shown in detail above is the chamfering work and double-x stamps done on the links. These features make the chain snag on to the next gear faster, smoother and quieter.

The chain also goes through what KMC calls a 'stretch-proof' treatment. 

A Missing Link 11 Gold for every X11SL kit. This makes the chain a breeze to install. No crazy expensive Campagnolo tool needed to close the links, simply align the holes to the opposite pin and pull. 

It's worth noting that KMC says these are non reusable and for single use only. But I have heard of people disassembling the Missing Link 11 to clean their chains and reassembling them to no issue. In fact, my mechanic says that it's safe to reuse at least once. But again, reusing the Missing Link-11 will  be at your own risk

Taking out the chain cutter, We trimmed down the X11SL to 105 links, same as the recently removed Dura Ace. These came in at 217grams. Compared to the CN-9000, the KMC's came in 7 grams lighter. 

KMC X11SL - 105 Links

Shimano CN-9000 - 105 links

The Missing Link 11 - 2 grams

On the road, we definitely confirm KMC's claims of better shifting. It may be hard to believe but the X11SL improves on the standard CN-9000 chain's already smooth shifts.  The X11SL is also a tad quieter than the 9000, as the soft mechanical hum of the DA 9000 drivetrain is a bit less noticeable now. The only thing that's loud about these chains is the color, though a more subdued version in Silver is also available.   

The price? It may be the most expensive chain out there but considering all the features you get and the cost of OEM Shimano or Campagnolo, the price is actually quite reasonable. 

Whether your'e a Shimano 11-speed newbie looking for an upgrade or a Campy 11 user looking for an alternative, these 11-speed chains from KMC are hard to beat. 

[UPDATE] We tried out the KMC X11SL Silver as well. Same features but less costly, this one might be better - value wise. 


Inexpensive, bling and sexy, works well. Quick release is one-time use only though.
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